Olive oil prices surge as production decreases, creating a risk of shortage on store shelves. This phenomenon is not limited to Spain; it also affects Greece. The cost of olive oil in Greece and Europe has steadily increased due to a significant decrease in production this year.
Producers sell the oil for 8 to 10 euros, resulting in supermarket prices ranging from 12 to 16 euros. Producers and traders are sounding the alarm about what will happen until winter. The problem originated in Spain, the world’s leading producer of olive oil. Heavy rain has caused a reduction in quantities, which will continue into next year. Italy and Greece also feel the impact of these price increases, as domestic production is also decreasing.
The rise in prices of olive oil is being caused by the shortage of olive oil stocks, as stated by Manolis Yiannoulis, EDOE’s head of the National Interprofessional Olive Oil Association. Yiannoulis commented on Spain’s historically low olive oil production, referring to it as a “perfect storm” that we are currently experiencing this year.
“The problem the international olive oil industry has is not the prices, but the sufficiency of the product,” Yiannoulis said. “What we see is a market that is struggling to meet its needs. Everyone is competing to buy to make up for the scarcity that is there; we can see it.”
New olive oil production in Greece will decrease by at least 50% compared to last year, leading to similar price hikes as in Spain. Some consumers are already opting for sunflower oil, which is more affordable than extra virgin olive oil.
The increase in olive oil prices has caused a chain reaction of problems, prompting producers and traders in Spain to raise concerns. Spain accounts for 40% to 55% of global olive oil production. Within a year, the price per liter has skyrocketed from 6.91 euros to 10.34 euros.
As a result, thefts from olive mills and supermarkets have significantly increased. One notable incident involved thieves stealing 60 thousand liters of olive oil worth 500,000 euros from a large olive mill.
The Spanish government had hoped that rain would lower prices, but the lack of rainfall in the spring contributed to the price explosion. This situation also affects Greece, the third-largest producer of olive oil after Spain and Italy.
Olive Oil Theft in Crete on the Rise
There have been reports of price increases and thefts in Crete in small villages. Approximately 200 liters of olive oil, worth around 2000 euros, have been stolen in the past 24 hours.
The olive producer from Crete mentioned that prices have surged, reaching 8.35 euros plus VAT for producers and 12 to 16 euros for consumers. Thieves try to steal large quantities of olive oil to sell as their own, given its high value.
Turkey, the fourth-largest producer of olive oil, has halted exports, causing further strain on the market. The estimates for olive oil production in Greece are alarming, with predictions of a 60% reduction compared to last year. Extreme scenarios even suggest a reduction of up to 90%.
Spain, responsible for 45% of the global olive oil market, expects reduced production, leading to skyrocketing prices and potential supermarket shortages. The price increase has already exceeded 100%, turning olive oil into a luxury item.
Market players anticipate a relative balance to be restored by the winter of 2024-2025, with hopes for improved production next year. Nevertheless, olive oil prices have reached unprecedented levels, earning it the nickname “liquid gold” of the season.